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    Civilians being killed in Helmand operation: residents

    LASHKARGAH (PAN): Residents of two districts --Sangin and Kajaki – in Helmand allege civilians were being killed by US forces during an ongoing operation in the southern province.

    LASHKARGAH (PAN): Residents of two districts --Sangin and Kajaki – in Helmand allege civilians were being killed by US forces during an ongoing operation in the southern province.

    In September 2010, the British forces handed over the security responsibility for Sangin and Kajaki to US forces, marking the end of their four-year mission in the region. The Royal Marines and other personnel were moved to central Helmand province.

    "It was hoped the replacement would result in improved security, but civilian casualties are increasing day by day," a resident said.

    "US soldiers have warned us that wherever they come under attack from militants they would retaliate against civilian population and such incidents had happened many times," Haji Khudai Noor, a resident of Kajaki district, told Pajhwok Afghan News. Residents of the district had been faced with a tense situation, he said.

    "We can neither leave their houses, nor we feel safe inside our houses," another resident of the same district said. "There have been clashes on a daily basis, and bomb blasts take place every day while militants are using our houses as bastions against foreigners," Toorjan said.

    But a tribal elder, Haji Shamsullah Sahrayee, though confirmed civilian casualties, said the ongoing operation was successfully underway. He asked the Afghan government to launch development projects and provide jobs to people.

    He urged foreigners to discuss the issue of maintaining security with tribal elders who could find out a solution.

    As new police checkpoints had been established south of the district, the security situation is getting better day by day, Sangin district chief, Haji Gul said.

    Over the past many days, there has been no bomb explosion despite the operation against militants, he said. However, he admitted that the operation resulted in sporadic clashes, creating problems for civilians.

    He said some projects were also underway in the area of agriculture. Work on a road project linking Sangin with Kajaki will soon be launched, he promised.

    Helmandgovernor, Muhammad Gulab Mangal, had said that civilian casualties in the mentioned districts were intolerable. He said foreigners would not be allowed to carry out operations which could lead to civilian casualties.

    The governor said work on reconstruction projects would be launched after the completion of the ongoing operation in the area. He asked residents to stand united against anti-government militants in their areas and help the government implement projects.

    frm/ma



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